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60 Minutes on CNBC

The Working Life News/Business. (2011)

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France 16, America 11, Us 8, U.s. 6, Cnbc 5, Marchand 5, Howard Weyers 5, Coors 4, Christina 3, The City 2, Glucerna Hunger Smart 2, Amina 2, Motorola 2, Maier 2, Madame 2, Joe Hurd 2, Karen 2, Greg Shenkman 2, Jason 2, Leslie Stahl 2,
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  CNBC    60 Minutes on CNBC    The Working Life   
   News/Business.  (2011)  

    December 30, 2012
    11:00 - 12:00am EST  

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the idea that if you work hard, if you have a dream, if you work with your neighbors... you can do most anything. this led to other ideas like liberty and rock 'n' roll. to free markets, free enterprise, and free refills. it put a man on the moon and a phone in your pocket. our country's gone through a lot over the centuries and a half. but this idea isn't fragile. when times get tough, it rallies us as one. every day, more people believe in the american idea and when they do, the dream comes true. we're grateful to be a part of it. [clock ticking] >> i pay the bills around here, so i'm gonna set the expectations. >> howard weyers is the boss; to some former workers,
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the boss from hell. if random tests find one of his workers has been smoking, he or she is fired. increasingly in the american workplace, big brother, or big boss, is watching you and your private life. >> what's important? this job-- and this is a very nice place to work--or the use of tobacco? make a decision. [clock ticking] >> americans work longer hours than nearly anyone in the developed world, even the japanese. >> good morning, everyone. >> for many professionals and corporate managers... >> super, super, super-duper hot. it's crazy. >> the 40-hour work week is history. >> daddy! >> okay, hold on just a minute. >> 60-to-80-hour work weeks are now the norm. >> you don't think you're working too much? >> no. >> do you? >> no. >> do you? >> no. >> you're brainwashed. [laughter] >> maybe we're all crazy. >> maybe we are. [clock ticking] >> we have eight weeks
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of vacation. >> eight weeks of vacation? >> eight weeks, yes. >> like most frenchmen, marchand has no guilt about taking so much time off. in fact, it's the law. full-time workers in france are guaranteed at least five weeks vacation and a maximum 35-hour work week, with no paid overtime allowed. and not everyone is thrilled about working even 35 hours. >> the aim is to keep your job without working. >> welcome to 60 minutes on cnbc. i'm leslie stahl. in this episode, we'll examine our relationship with work. how much is too much, too little, and who should decide? but before we look at the hours we spend on the job, we'll look at how employers tried to influence the way their workers act off the job. as morley safer reported in 2005, that cigarette or drink at home, that political candidate you supported, even your eating habits
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are coming under the scrutiny of your employer. if your boss doesn't approve, it might even cost you your job. >> anita epolito and cara stiffler were considered model employees at weyco, an insurance consulting firm outside of lansing, michigan. anita, 14 years on the job, cara, five. they sat side by side, sharing workloads and after work the occasional cigarette. but at a company benefits meeting two years ago, the company president announced... >> "as of january 1, 2005, anyone that has nicotine in their body will be fired." and we sat there like-- like, in awe. my first reaction was privacy. the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and i thought, there is no way that in america that this could happen. and i spoke out at that time, "you can't do that to us." and then he said, "yes, i can." i said, "that's not legal." and he came back with, "yes, it is."
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>> and it was. in the state of michigan, there is no law that prevents a boss from firing people virtually at will. at weyco, that meant no smoking at work, no smoking at home, no smoking period. >> good afternoon. weyco. >> weyco gave employees 15 months to quit, then they were subject to random nicotine testing. you fail, you're out. >> did either of you say, "okay, this is awful, but, you know, this is a chance to break the habit?" >> i did. i tried to quit smoking. i took advantage of their program, the smoking cessation program. but i was unsuccessful. >> i'm trying every way to cut down, quit--gum. i'm trying, yes, on my own, but i don't need an employer to do that. >> i pay the bills around here, so i'm gonna set the expectations. >> howard weyers is the boss, some would say tyrant, of weyco. >> what's important? this job or the use of tobacco? make a decision.
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>> i came right out and said, "does not 14 years of my dedication or loyalty to you"-- and i'm italian, so loyalty means something. [laughter] "but does it mean nothing to you?" and he said, "sorry, epolito, no." >> did he give you a little bonus or something when you left? >> no. >> it was, you were escorted by your manager off the property, turn in your key. that was it. >> it was sad. >> you didn't feel any sympathy at all for them? >> no, because i gave them plenty of time to make a decision. >> in the end, 20 employees quit smoking. four wouldn't and were fired when they refused to take a breathalyzer test. a year later, anita and cara are still unemployed, still smoking, and fuming. >> i think that smoking is a great smokescreen around the true issue here. this is about privacy. this is about what you do on your own time that is legal that does not conflict with your job performance.
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>> what it's really about is money. big business is increasingly nosing into your business, trying to cut the cost of their business. and the easiest targets are smokers. really, obese people whose healthcare is among the costliest are protected by federal law. but thousands of companies and countless municipal governments and police departments refuse to hire smokers, and some require affidavits and even use lie detector tests to enforce the policy. bosses like howard weyers will not pay for what they see as other people's bad habits. >> the biggest frustration in the workplace is the cost of healthcare. medical plans weren't established to pay for unhealthy lifestyles. >> how much does it cost you? how much of the smokers that you once employed here cost you? >> i never really measured them. >> so it may not have cost you a dime? >> well, it may not, but i don't know what's gonna happen five years from now with that person who's smoking. that's what i don't want to wait for. >> this former college football
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coach works out five times a week and wants his employees to share his values. at weyco, howard rules. >> i've set the policy. i'm not gonna bend from the policy. >> but it strikes me as a kind of intolerant attitude to the habits, foibles, eccentricities of other people. >> right. i would say i'm intolerable. >> [laughing] intolerable and intolerant. [laughter] >> no, i am. but i just can't be flexible on the policy. >> but lewis maltby, head of the work rights institute in princeton, new jersey, calls weyco's smoking ban a form of lifestyle discrimination. but he says it's perfectly legal in 20 states. and in most of america, a worker has virtually no rights at all. >> under the law in all but five states in america, your boss can fire you for any reason under the sun, including who you associate
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with after work, whether you're smoking or drinking in your own home, or a bumper sticker on your car, and you have no legal recourse. >> the boss at weyco says he fired those folk because smoking at home inevitably will cost him more for healthcare. >> the problem is, lots of things increase your healthcare cost-- smoking, drinking, eating junk food, not getting enough sleep, dangerous hobbies, skiing, scuba diving. if you allow employers to regulate private behavior because it's going to affect the company's healthcare cost, we can all kiss our private lives good-bye. [clock ticking] >> you can be penalized for all kinds of off-hour activities. this man says he lost his job because he drank the wrong beer. >> and the waitress had delivered a coors by mistake. >> when we return. this is how mommy learned...
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[clock ticking]
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>> examples of companies nosing into their employees' lives abound. at the borgata casino, bartenders and waitresses-- they call them borgata babes-- can be fired if they gain more than 7% of their body weight. or penalizing workers by imposing higher health insurance premiums for activities the boss deems undesirable. and sometimes, it's not even health-related. >> there was a gentleman last fall in west virginia who was fired because he asked an embarrassing question of a candidate at a political rally. there was a woman in alabama who was fired for having a "kerry for president" bumper sticker on her car. they all called their lawyers, they all called the aclu, they all got the same answer: "you have no legal rights." >> and then there's ross hopkins. he worked for an anheuser-busch budweiser distributor in colorado. >> i went out on a date with my girlfriend, and we went to a country bar. and the waitress had delivered
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a coors by mistake. and, you know, i just told her, "well, you know, i'll take it." but then he ran into the boss' son in law, who offered to buy him a bud. he says he declined, and the next day at work... >> at the end of the day, they had pulled me in and told me that they were letting me go for drinking that coors, you know? and they told me to leave. >> what was your reaction? >> i was very surprised. very surprised. >> he sued the budweiser distributor for wrongful termination. both parties refuse to discuss the final resolution. >> just between us, ross, what do you prefer, coors or bud? >> i use to really like anheuser-busch, but... you know, this just tastes better and better and better. [dance music playing] >> most companies don't care what beer you drink. it's how much you drink or smoke or eat.
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james ramsey, the president of the university of louisville, says the cost of bad behavior by university staff was getting out of hand. >> the band-aids weren't working. the quick fixes weren't working. we can do mail order form pharmacy. we can do all those kinds of things to control costs. but our costs are going up. >> so the university instituted a so-called wellness program. if employees shape up, slim down, and fill out a questionnaire-- a kind of confessional of your health, eating, and sexual habits, they get a $20 monthly credit on their health insurance premiums. you signed up. have you seen improvement? >> dramatic improvement. i've lost 30 pounds. i don't have to take blood pressure medicine. >> and says he's never felt better and is working out five times a week. >> i'm calling on behalf of the university's get healthy program. how are you? >> employees must also agree to be regularly nagged by nannies. >> do you know what your current weight is. >> this coach is checking in.
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>> what types of snacks are you gonna bring? >> part of the program are these coaches, who essentially nag you. >> what kind of dietary changes have you been focusing on? >> isn't that going a little far in terms of the private lives of the people working for you? >> if i volunteer for a program, then i'm volunteering to be nagged and to be pushed. and it works. >> he says it's too soon to know if the wellness program is controlling costs. but mark rothstein, a bioethics professor at louisville, did not sign up. he says wellness programs may lead to better health, but can people trust in the confidentiality of the questionnaires they filled out? >> people who work for employers who perhaps don't have the best record of keeping privacy might well be concerned that the information could filter back to the company, and they could be adversely treated. >> not get that promotion. >> exactly. there's a tremendous incentive for employers to try to weed out high-cost healthcare users.
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5% of employees represent 50% of healthcare costs. and if you're an employer and can identify who these people are, you can save a lot of money to your bottom line. >> which is what this is all about. countless companies like quaker oats, johnson & johnson, honeywell, motorola, and ibm claim to have saved millions after instituting wellness programs. but all that good health might not necessarily make for the best workforce. the city of north miami, florida, used to require that all its new police officers be non-smokers. but two years ago, the city quietly dropped the smoking ban. gwendolyn boyd is the city's chief of police. >> we realized that at best we may save 5% on our insurance premium. but now we're having a problem with trying to recruit and hire highly-qualified candidates, and we're competing against agencies that do not have that policy. >> did dropping the policy dramatically change that?
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were you able to find qualified people? >> i would have to say unequivocally yes. >> officer juan mayato believes that the city ultimately learned that those smokers more often than not made pretty good cops. >> i mean, what does smoking have to do with the way you perform your job out here? there's a lot of people that smoke that are well qualified for this job, and it doesn't affect them. and, you know, they couldn't hire them. >> that was the problem cnn faced. and after 13 years of a ban on hiring smokers, it rescinded the policy. even so, lewis maltby says it's gonna be near impossible to marshal support for smokers. >> smoking has become more than a health issue. smoking has become a moral issue. somehow people look at smokers and say, "you're a bad person because you smoke." i don't know quite how that happened, but it has. >> but howard weyers would even like to extend his smoking ban
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to the spouses of his employees. and for other bad habits, a heavy hint: a scale next to the company vending machine. >> there's still some things that we need to work on. we need to work on eating, and we need to work on exercise. and i don't think people-- there's enough physical activity among people. they need to work on that. >> it's a little like, you know, the old communist eastern europe. big brother is watching you all the time. >> well, maybe big brother should be watching because we have to eliminate that problem. >> even it if means-- means snooping into their private lives? >> i don't snoop into their private life. when they leave here, i don't follow them. >> well, you do after a fashion. >> well, our policy does. >> and you are the policy. >> yeah, that's right. i'm the policymaker. yes, sir. >> after this story first aired in 2005, howard weyers began charging his employees more
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for healthcare costs if their spouses smoked, even if those spouses weren't covered by weyco's insurance. and the national healthcare legislation passed in 2010 endorsed many of the practices in this story, allowing bigger incentives for employees who enroll in wellness programs and higher costs for those who do not change their behavior. [clocking ticking] >> i just emailed you the link. >> when 60 minutes on cnbc returns, we'll meet people who are constantly attached to their mobile devices. >> oh, i have the absolute bare minimum, i think. i have two cell phones, a personal and-- >> that's the bare minimum, america. two cell phones. when you have diabetes...
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[clock ticking] >> americans work more hours a day than nearly any other workforce in the developed world, even the japanese. for many professionals and corporate managers, the 40-hour work week is history. 60-to-80-hour work weeks are now the norm. why do americans work so much? the simplest answer is, because we can. the digital revolution means cell phones, wireless internet, and handheld computers like the blackberry allow us to work anywhere, and we do 24/7. >> okay, you can hear me now? >> it's 7:00 a.m., pacific time, and joe hurd is still in bed. but this 36-year-old silicon valley entrepreneur has already made two phone calls over the internet... >> that's good. >> to clients overseas. >> have you ever heard of a company called acl wireless based in india? >> he's checked emails
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on his blackberry and sent half a dozen ims, instant messages, from his laptop. >> i just emailed you the link. >> for joe and his wife christina mireles, new technology means their workday isn't 9:00 to 5:00. it's 5:00 to 9:00. >> because we have wireless access, you can work wherever. >> we can be in the kitchen. we can be in our bedroom. we can be here in the living room. >> with a masters and a law degree each, they're not exactly underachievers. joe logs 12-to-15-hour days as vice president of an internet travel website. i have been told that you will get up in the middle of the night to do emails. >> sometimes i can't sleep and i'll get up at 2:00 or 3:00, yeah, to do emails. definitely. >> you're shaking your head. >> or you'll set your alarm also at 4:00--you know, to wake up at 1:00, 2:00 in the morning. >> i do, i do. >> christina works a few hours less than joe as vice president of a charter school company. she says she is no match for her husband in terms
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of gadgets. >> oh, i have the absolute bare minimum, i think. i have two cell phones, a personal and-- >> that's the bare minimum, america, two cell phones. >> yeah, listening to that-- the bare minimum. >> the two cell phones the bare minimum. >> sorry. it's christina mireles. it's about 8:50 thursday morning. >> not a minute is wasted, even before getting to the office. christina juggles the two cell phones, returning business and personal calls. and she usually eats behind the wheel. >> oh, i forgot to bring my breakfast. oh, well. >> talk about multitasking. on his commute, joe manages the consulting business he has on the side... >> super, super, super-duper hot. it's crazy. >> and even keeps track of new messages on his blackberry. but he says he's never tried anything this dangerous. this man is actually typing out an email while driving in rush hour traffic. [engines whirring] >> i got it. joe's workday is a blur of business meetings... >> so this is the basic site.
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>> incoming phone calls. >> who are you? what do you do? how can i help you? >> and hundreds of emails. >> i can check emails and respond to emails. i can have a conversation on the telephone. joe hurd. i can have a conversation via im. and i can keep--exactly-- probably half an ear on a conversation with a person. >> in the room with you. >> yeah, exactly. can you do it now? >> if you're doing two or three things at the same time, are you really doing them all well? >> well, you know, this is not neurosurgery we're talking about here. >> well, it's work, though. >> but you can do a lot of that simultaneously. >> joe may be able to pull that off, but many corporate executives say the volume of voicemail and email they get has become unmanageable, eating up an average of three hours a day. combine that with a corporate culture that values endless meetings and face time with the boss, and you can see why so many employees toil into the night just to get their real work done.
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we visited the corporate headquarters of best buy, the electronics retailer in richfield, minnesota. >> hey, john. it's stac'. >> employees stacy verstraight, jason dehne... >> oh, i sent it to her already. >> and marissa plume say that putting in 60-to-80-hour weeks got them pats on the back. >> you know, you'd send an email at 9:00 at night, and the next day your coworkers would say, "hey, wow, you were up really late last night. what were you doing? you were working that whole time? wow, great job." >> right, right. >> but if you weren't there at the crack of dawn, you were put down. >> you know, if i come in at 9:00 or 10:00, i was at a doctor's appointment, you know, people were saying, "oh, gee, glad you could show up today." you know, so it felt a little-- >> a little dig. >> yeah, a little bit of a dig, and people were just watching other people. so it felt like a lot of unnecessary pressure. >> i canceled booked vacations. i mean, i booked vacations, and i canceled them because i had to work. >> okay, so are we hours-driven? >> yep. >> in 2002, after a jump in people quitting and filing stress-related health claims,
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best guy launched an experiment. employees would be allowed to work wherever and whenever they wanted as long as they got their jobs done. i don't see anybody in this row. i see some people here, but not in this row at all. >> and that means the bestbuy.com unit that chap achen manages often looks like a ghost town. >> some folks literally don't come in the office for weeks at a time. >> but you don't know where they are, actually. if i said, "where's that person," you couldn't tell me. >> i couldn't tell you if he was in his basement or he was at a starbucks with a wireless connection. >> since the best buy experiment started, jason's health has improved. normally at his desk by 7:30, he now jogs to his local coffee shop and takes his 8:00 conference call by cell phone. >> good morning, everyone. [chortles] >> marissa, a night owl, now does her best work around midnight from her bedroom. >> i have to trust that my team is gonna get the work done in this environment.
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and the ironic thing about it is that it's that trust factor that actually makes them work harder for you. >> and just as long. >> and just as long. >> or longer. stacy, jason, and marissa say they often work more hours than they did before. not a bad deal for the company. productivity among employees in the program has jumped a healthy 35%. >> we can spread out our work over seven days of the week. it's not about-- >> but who wants to work seven days a week? why is that positive? >> it's my--it's the way i choose to work. >> but if it takes 70 hours to do your job, why doesn't best guy go hire more people? >> you know, i am a happier employee with the trust. >> you want to work the 70 hours. >> i love what i do. >> you don't think you're working too much? >> no. >> do you? >> no. >> do you? >> no. >> you're brainwashed. [laughter] >> maybe we're all crazy. >> maybe we are. >> maybe they are. they don't even make more money for the longer hours. [clock ticking]
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next up, even with job sharing, it's hard to stop working. >> we're always on call because of the blackberry. >> the crackberry. >> when 60 minute on cnbc returns. this is america.
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[clock ticking] >> should we call jim? >> mike moody and jeff ward left high stress, six-day-a-week jobs as big city lawyers because they wanted to spend more time with their wives and children. they decided to do what more and more working mothers are doing: share a job. >> well, for the first six months of the job, i was referred to as the new joanne. >> the job of assistant in-house council at timberland in stratham, new hampshire, had been filled by two women
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for years. >> i have two weekends a week. >> two weekends a week? >> and i have a four-day weekend. >> it is a pretty sweet deal. they each work three days a week, overlapping on tuesdays. >> how do you keep the office from sucking you back in on your days off? >> it's a constant struggle. we're always on call because of the blackberry. >> the crackberry. >> the crackberry? >> yeah. >> there you go. it's attached to you. it's part of your body. >> yep. >> part of mike's body even on his days off... >> daddy! >> okay, hold on just a minute. >> when he's the house husband in the kitchen... >> sarah's birthday is coming up, isn't it? >> in the laundry room. >> i need to email jeff. >> what's the strangest place that you've ever been on your blackberry, staying connected to the office? >> shortly after i got the blackberry, i found myself swinging my kids on a swing with my left hand, checking messages with my right. and i realized, i have to control the
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blackberry. i can't let it control me. >> the company pays them 75% of full-time pay because, as it's turned out, they each end up working about 40 hours a week. >> that's a full-time job. >> it's not many people's full-time job, though. >> but it's what we used to think of as a full-time job. >> absolutely. >> with so many americans working more than 40 hours a week, it may surprise you to learn that when it comes to productivity, the u.s. is not number one. in fact, we americans rank lower than workers in four european countries, including france, in our productivity per hour of work. now, that's the key-- per hour of work-- even though the europeans work less and take more vacation. >> i am packing up and getting on the road now. >> do you think that with all these gadgets and the technology that you're more or less productive? >> if you want to measure productivity by, you know,
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for me, for example, keeping the emails flowing, you know, multiple conversations going, then, yes, the technology does facilitate that. >> joe gave us a demonstration of his multitasking skills and how hard it can be to stop. >> this is the blackberry with the headset, which is both my phone and my email. >> okay. you've seen him do this often? >> oh, yeah. >> yeah, this is typical. but he's not doing something special and unusual for us. >> not at all. and i'm often on the other end of the telephone, and i actually do get frustrated because i can hear the typing. >> 'cause you know what he's doing. right, of course. you hear the clicking, but even if you didn't hear it, you'd know. >> mm-hmm. >> he's i.m.'ing while he's talking to his brother. >> yes, and he's about to send an email. >> in boston. >> so you did an email, an i.m., and talked to your brother all at the same time? >> yeah, as a matter of fact, since i've started this email, now i got to finish it. >> and he's gonna do the interview with me and finish the email... >> right. >> at the same time. well, how do you turn all this stuff off? >> actually, i just did it right now when i was finishing email. >> yeah, but you're still doing the email. >> no, no, email's over. i just sent it. but i--so what--
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>> you're focusing on this interview. >> i am now. >> i'm relieved. [chuckles] >> i've just had a little email crack, though, so now i'm all, you know, cheery and everything. >> yeah, you got your fix. >> i got my fix. that's exactly right. >> i'm getting the picture that joe, and to a slightly less degree christina, never stops. and i'm wondering if it's a blessing or a curse. >> i think we have different perspectives on this. >> we do. we do. while--while i recognize the convenience of technology-- and technology really does make our lives a lot easier-- i also sometimes think it is a curse. >> i certainly think it's a blessing because, you know, without the technology, i'd have to be, you know, stuck in an office somewhere, right, either working on a pc that's tethered to a desk or working-- you know, making telephone calls
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from my work phone that's at my office. so i view this, you know, very much as a liberating factor. >> the downside, however, is that oftentimes, we really don't have substantive conversations when we come home. we will be sitting on our couch, each doing work. >> side by side but-- >> we'll send each other emails and ims... >> oh, yeah. >> to communicate. >> oh, come on. >> yeah, from one room in the house to the next. >> no. >> oh, yeah, sure. >> no. >> yeah, yeah. >> you're not even laughing. you think this is normal. this is what's most scary. you're just telling me this matter of fact. >> i don't think we're-- >> i don't--yeah. >> yeah. >> [laughing] yeah. >> it's normal. >> yeah. >> well, what about your relationship? i'm not trying to get too personal here. >> well, that's what i mean. that's the downside. i mean, it would be nice to have a conversation even once a week and not be--i mean, really be concentrating and listening to each other. but we've got one eye on our computers. >> yeah. >> christina says he does tune out everything once
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she gets home from work... >> hello, mi amor. how are you? >> to play with their eight-month-old daughter amina. >> she even turns her cell phones off. but when amina gets fussy... >> i really shouldn't do this. >> they both reach for her favorite toy. this is her favorite toy? no. her favorite toy is the blackberry? [gasps] >> we have her on the bed with a bunch of toys. >> and she'll always pick the blackberry? >> she seriously just made a phone call. >> [laughs] which means when amina grows us, she may have a house like greg shenkman's. >> my work is fun for me. i enjoy it. it's my hobby. >> greg shenkman is such a workaholic that he has wired his house with internet, telephone, and television in every single room. as ceo of the global high tech firm exigen in san francisco, he feels he has to be available to his customers at all hours. >> well, you lose something. you lose some days of your kids' lives. you lose some of those tender
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moments with the family. >> what happens when you stop working? >> i ache. >> you ache? >> well, if you go on vacation sometimes in order to sort of relax, it takes a little bit of an effort. >> i'll bet you're connected on vacation. >> you're right. >> he's so obsessed... >> oh, and look at this. yep, he's wired his shower. when greg soaks up, he doesn't daydream. he watches the business news... >> so this is at cnbc. >> got to be. checks his email, answers the phone. okay, so we've arranged fo the producer to call you on the phone. the phone is ringing. >> and simply answer the call. >> hello? >> hi, karen. >> you're on speaker phone. i can talk to her too? >> yes. >> okay, so what happened, karen, was, the water was turned off automatically... >> right. >> and he answered the phone on speaker phone, and we're talking to you from his shower. [laughter] the electronics are waterproof, but not foolproof. >> oh! >> ooh! what happened? >> we forgot to turn it off.
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>> [laughs] >> there we go. oop. >> okay, so you're in the shower, that happens. >> well, i usually don't have leslie stahl in the shower with me. >> that's--that would be a unusual occurrence for me. >> for the record, that was my first interview in a shower. >> you are wet. >> yeah, i know. >> i feel--oh, i'm sorry. >> no, don't worry about it. and my last. in 2010, 3% of businesses in the u.s. said they had flexible work hour plans similar to the best buy model. meanwhile, courts have found that salaried employees are entitled to overtime pay for the time they spend working on their mobile devices. and more people spend time doing just that. one study in the u.s. in 2010 found that 79% if respondents checked work email while on vacation. but there are still those who believe vacation should be tranquil, those who leave their blackberries at home. when 60 minutes on cnbc continues, we'll hear
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[clock ticking] >> how long a vacation do you take in the summer? two weeks? one week? a long weekend? in america, we may all want more time off from work, but we never seem to be able to take it. but as lara logan reported in 2005, there are millions of people who take endless vacations in the summer-- a month, two months, even more.
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and we're not talking about the idle rich. these are government employees, blue collar workers, office clerks. what's their secret? they live in france. >> stephane marchand is a senior economics editor at the french newspaper le figaro. >> in my line of job, i am a journalist working with french newspaper. we have eight weeks of vacation. >> eight weeks of vacation? >> eight weeks, yes. i know it maybe surprising for you because i know in the u.s. you might have only two or three if you are lucky. but we have eight. >> like most frenchmen, marchand has no guilt about taking so much time off. in fact, it's the law. full-time workers in france are guaranteed at least five week's vacation, guaranteed those long lazy days in the sun and leisurely lunches in outdoor cafes. on top of the five weeks, there are another dozen public holidays
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and a maximum 35-hour work week with no paid overtime allowed. managers like marchand, who work more than 35 hours a week, get more time off. >> the so-called 35-hour week gives us 22 more days a year. >> 22 more days in addition to the eight week's vacation. >> yes. >> wow. >> which is a lot. which is a lot. >> normally busy streets in paris empty out in july and august when most locals take their annual holiday. shops and businesses are often deserted for a month, sometimes longer. whole apartment buildings are shuttered when parisians flee the city. the french are so passionate about their vacations, they put pleasure before profit. as foreign tourist roam the streets and summer temperatures hit their peak, paris' most popular ice cream parlor is, well, closed for a while six weeks. it's the kind of business
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bonanza that would be seized upon by americans. but the french don't seem to care. >> the big difference is money, the place of money in your life. >> marchand says money isn't the top priority here. maybe that's because in france, things like healthcare and education are virtually free. but if you think the french have unlocked the door to paradise, don't start packing yet. [sewing machines whirring] the 35-hour work week, meant to create new jobs, hardly made a dent in unemployment, which still stands at over 10%. and not everyone is thrilled about working even 35 hours. corrine maier, a part-time employee for the state-owned electricity company, has written a book arguing that the french should work less or at least less well. >> the aim is to keep your job without working, or to do... [laughs] it's not to go higher. >> maier's best seller, bonjour, laziness,
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reveals her secrets on the art of pretending to work. let me read you the subtitle of your book. "the art and necessity of doing the least possible in a corporation." what is the art? >> because you have to be an actor. >> so you're performing? >> yes, you're performing. >> did you have any idea when you wrote this book that it was going to be so popular with french people? >> uh, no. [laughing] no. >> were you completely shocked? >> uh, yes, i'm very surprised. >> maier, who has a phd in psychoanalysis, isn't lazy. she's simply disillusioned with the french workplace, which she says values busy work and corporate politics over true productivity. and her book has resonated beyond french borders. the rights have been sold to more than 20 countries, including the united states. and let's not forget that you wrote the book in your spare time because you're only working 20 hours a week. >> yes, it's true. >> so you must think americans
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are insane. >> no, because, um, americans, i think believe-- believe more in future than french people. we, french people right now, we don't believe the future will be better than now. so we don't have any reason to work. >> why? >> i don't know. maybe... [chuckles] maybe we're an old country. we are depressed. [laughs] >> an old, depressed country? >> [laughing] yes. >> [laughing] well... there may be some americans that agree with that. >> [laughing] possibly, yes. but the food is very good. >> the food is very good. [laughs] >> when we return, there's trouble in vacation paradise. >> the french system will not survive long if it's not reformed. >> no, no, no! >> on 60 minutes on cnbc. hmm, it says here that cheerios helps lower cholesterol
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your doctor will say get smart about your weight. that's why there's glucerna hunger smart shakes. they have carb steady, with carbs that digest slowly to help minimize blood sugar spikes. [ male announcer ] glucerna hunger smart. a smart way to help manage hunger and diabetes. [clock ticking] >> working, for me, is a very important value and is a good value. >> french entrepreneur ari zlotkin, president of anne fontaine, a successful french blouse company. zlotkin manufactures in france,
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but has high end boutiques across the globe, from new york to tokyo. and there's no doubt in his mind which country's workers he prefers. >> in america, we don't lose time. >> you don't lose time? >> we don't lose time. in france, we lose a lot of time with, i mean, fixing social troubles. we lose a lot of time with things which are not related to the business we are doing. >> so people's personal concerns interfere with the work? >> yeah, with the laws, with the working time, with the... >> the unions. >> what they have the right to do, what they don't have the right to do, and so on and so. i mean, in america, people work. >> and that's it. >> and that's it. >> zlotkin thinks the shorter work weeks and long vacations are highly overrated. what about the argument that in france people have more leisure time, more time to enjoy themselves, the art of conversation, the long lunches? >> i think it's a nice image.
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i'm not sure it's true. what is--what is-- what is sure is that statistically since the 35 hours, people are staying longer in front of their tv. >> people are spending more time on front of their television? >> and, you know, also it's very nice to have more free time. but you must also have the money to be able to take advantage of this free time. >> ironically, some american companies, rather than being scared off by the lavish vacations and limited work weeks, are investing heavily in france. from microsoft to motorola, some 3,000 american companies have crossed the atlantic, providing more than half a million french jobs. americans at home may still be eating freedom fries, but corporate america is buying into france. >> they come in france because they know that infrastructure is first-rate and that people are working very well in france, especially engineers. we are probably one of the two
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or three countries in the world with the best engineers. and so in terms of technology, france is still a country that is taken very seriously by the american executives. >> some of those american executives savor the french approach to work. katherine melchior ray left behind her job as a senior manager at nike in the u.s. and came here... >> bonjour, madame. >> bonjour, madame. >> to work in the french fashion industry. her job is just as high-powered, but now that she's in france... >> merci. >> merci. >> katherine no longer works weekends, and vacation has taken on a whole new meaning. >> i don't check in. i don't check my email, i don't call on the phone, and no one expects me to. >> so when you go on vacation here, you really go on vacation. >> you really go on vacation. >> even so, france is still one of the world's five largest economies. when the french work,
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their productivity per hour is among the highest in the world, even better than in the u.s. problem is, french workers are on the job almost 300 hours less per year than their american counterparts, so french economic growth lags far behind the u.s. >> people understand very well that the french system will not survive long if it's not reformed. people have to work more. for years, people thought that they could work less and earn more. >> but they can't. >> which is absurd. >> editor stephane marchand says other countries in europe are already moving in the other direction, increasing the work week without raising salaries. and france has made some minor reforms in its 35-hour work week. it's a question of economic survival. >> the germans are showing us the way. german companies are saying the employees, "okay, you renounce the 35-hour week or we take your jobs
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and we send them to hungary, poland, if not china. >> so there should be huge political support then to change it. >> um, there is not a huge political support to change it. >> why not? >> because it's seen as a sort of entitlement now. >> people see it as their right. >> exactly. >> "i'm only gonna work 35 hours a week and that's it." >> exactly. >> no, no, no! >> so no french politician would even dare to suggest fundamental reform, like trimming that guaranteed five weeks of vacation. and american melchior ray has been won over. she's talked herself into the idea that the french way of working, rather, not working, translates into good economic sense. >> people came back, and it was like everyone had had ten shots of espresso. they were just ready to go. they were like ever ready bunnies. everyone was going tog